Kevin Sumlin’s first college game as an athlete hardly went well—his Purdue Boilermakers were on the wrong end of a 52-6 loss at the hands of Notre Dame.
In an interview with Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin, Sumlin recounted the slaughter:
“It was awful,” Sumlin said. “I was sick to my stomach. We walked into the locker room and Coach [Leon] Burtnett was irate. He said, `That was embarrassing. But here’s the other news: We’re going to play at Miami next week. Since we didn’t play [against Notre Dame], we’re going to go back [home] and scrimmage Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Then we’re going to figure out who wants to play football before we get on the plane to go to Miami, because this is not going to happen again.’”
Sumlin was one of those players to step up, going from a bystander in Purdue’s opening debacle, to starting week three against Minnesota. Sumlin would go on to never relinquish his position, finishing seventh as the school’s all-time leader in tackles.
Fast-forward to when Alabama destroyed Texas A&M 59-0 and you have a perfect recipe for history repeating itself.
“As a coach, particularly as a head coach, I’ve never been a part of anything like that,” Sumlin said. “It’s something I’ll never forget. We came back and had a bye week. Interestingly enough, guess what we did? We scrimmaged the first couple of days. Surprise, surprise. We went right out onto Kyle Field and scrimmaged — live, tackling to the ground. That [Notre Dame] game is probably what shaped that.”
After that loss, Sumlin plugged in five new starters, improving their points allowed from 39.6 to just 31.6. Purdue never allowed another 50-point game during Sumlin’s career, a statement he’s looking to make again as the head coach of the Aggies.
[h/t Dallas Morning News]